Politics

Dunleavy accepts conditional Trump endorsement, tells former president he will not back Murkowski in 2022

Governor Dunleavy President Trump JBER

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has accepted former President Donald Trump’s conditional endorsement of his 2022 reelection campaign, according to a message sent from Trump’s political action committee.

Trump offered Dunleavy his “Complete and Total Endorsement” earlier this week, but only if Dunleavy refused to endorse fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski for reelection.

“Please tell the President thank you for the endorsement,” Dunleavy’s response stated, according to a message from Trump’s Save America PAC on Thursday evening. “With regard to the other issue, please tell the President he has nothing to worry about. I appreciate all 45 has done for Alaska and this country.”

Andrew Jensen, a spokesman for Dunleavy’s reelection campaign, confirmed Friday that the message was sent by the governor to a Trump assistant, though he isn’t sure of the timing.

“It was a written message from the governor to Trump’s people,” Jensen said.

[Trump again endorses Dunleavy for Alaska governor — but only if he doesn’t back Murkowski]

Earlier this week, after Trump issued the conditional endorsement, Jensen said he didn’t believe the governor had any intention to get involved with the U.S. Senate race.

“The governor is focused on his race,” Jensen said at the time.

On Friday, when asked about Dunleavy’s statement that Trump “has nothing to worry about,” Jensen said the message was consistent with the previous statement. He said he didn’t know whether the governor intended for the message to Trump be made public.

“Even if it was intended to be private, it still is consistent,” Jensen said.

Trump unconditionally endorsed Dunleavy in the 2018 governor’s race.

Several of the president’s former assistants are employed by the campaign of Murkowski’s main Republican challenger, former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner Kelly Tshibaka, who worked in Dunleavy’s administration and was endorsed by Trump.

Tshibaka’s campaign has declined to say whether it requested that Trump make his endorsement contingent upon a lack of support for Murkowski, who is widely viewed as one of the more moderate Republicans in the Senate.

Trump and Murkowski have clashed on several occasions, and she was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. A spokesperson for Murkowski’s campaign said he had no response to the initial announcement or Dunleavy’s response to Trump.

As of Friday, six candidates including Dunleavy had registered as governor’s race candidates with either the Alaska Division of Elections or the Alaska Public Offices Commission. Ten candidates, not including Tshibaka, have registered with the Division of Elections for the U.S. Senate seat. The deadline to enter either race is June 1.

In both races, the top four finishers in the August primary election will advance to the November general election, where winners will be chosen with ranked-choice voting.

James Brooks

James Brooks was a Juneau-based reporter for the ADN from 2018 to May 2022.

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